Underage drinking and driving penalties in New York
Instead of being prosecuted in a criminal court and judged by a judge or jury, an underage driver who is charged with violating New York’s underage per se statute and driving with BAC levels between .02%-.07% is judged by the DMV commissioner at a DMV hearing. If convicted, you can face fines and a license suspension. However, depending on the amount of alcohol you consumed, you may be charged with a DWAI, DWI or Aggravated DWI in a criminal court.
Listed below are some of the different types of underage drinking and driving charges in New York and the penalties that come with a conviction:
- BAC of .02%-.07%: If caught driving impaired with BAC levels in this range, you may be charged with a “driving after having consumed alcohol” offense under NY’s Zero Tolerance Law. A first offense carries a six-month suspension of your driver’s license and a civil fine of $125. For repeat convictions, your driver’s license will be revoked for one year or until you turn 21 years old.
- BAC between .05% and .08%: If you are driving impaired with BAC levels in this range, the police may charge you with a Driving While Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI) offense. This offense is considered a traffic violation and is tried in a criminal court, not by the DMV. A first-time DWAI conviction can be punished with a one-year revocation of your license, fines up to $500 and up to 15 days in prison.
- BAC levels of .08% or above: If you are underage and caught with BAC levels above .08%, you can be charged with a Driving While Intoxicated offense. A DWI will also be tried in criminal court and if convicted you can have your license revoked for one year, a fine of $1,000 and up to one year in prison.
- BAC levels of .18% or higher: This is a misdemeanor crime tried in a criminal court. If convicted of an Aggravated DWI you can face up to one year in prison, fines between $1000-$2500, the required installation of an ignition interlock device, and the suspension of your driver’s license for one year.
With underage drivers, a DWAI or DWI conviction can result in a one-year license suspension that cannot be shortened by completing the Impaired Drivers Program.
Being underage and charged with any kind of DWI or DWAI can also bring up other investigations into how you bought the alcohol or whether you used a fake ID.
Because the consequences for DWI, DWAI and Aggravated DWI charges in New York can be so severe, it’s highly recommended that you contact an experienced underaged drunk driving defense attorney in Nassau County if you or your child is being charged. Drunk driving charges are something that the state of New York takes very seriously, so it’s vital that you have someone to investigate your case and fight for your rights in court.